The Multidimensional Customer: Building Experiences from the Outside In

January 25, 2018

by Carla Johnson

When, where, why and how do people spend money?

The motivations that make up how people make decisions have become incredibly complex in the last few years. And while businesses keep gathering bigger and bigger data, customers feel brutally frustrated with how brands interact with them.

The outcome is that companies find that they’re out of step with a changing customer that’s more informed and more empowered. They don’t know how changing expectations translate into new value props, whether that’s the products and services they sell or the entire business growth. The struggle comes with understanding how to align what they do with how customers make decisions.

A KPMG Global Customer Insights report called Me, My Life, My Wallet, looks at the changing dynamics of how customers spend money throughout their lifetime. The report digs into three dimensions of how customers make decisions –

1. Influencing events.

Events of a customer’s formative years that shaped their values and influence their behaviors.

2. Five Mys.

My motivation, my attention, my connection and my trade-offs between time and money from the customer’s point of view.

3. Life stage.

Where a customer is along their life stage journey.

I found this framework particularly relevant for B2B companies wanting to better understand customers and how influencing events and their life stage impact how they make buying decisions on the job. It’s a multidimensional framework that connects with a multidimensional B2B customer.

Exercise of the Five Mys

In particular I was intrigued by the author’s focus on what drives people to make decisions from a new perspective, that of the Five Mys, which are defined as –

1. My motivation.

These are characteristics that drive behavior and expectation. Trust, authenticity and social values are critical but intangible motivators of the choices today’s consumers make weigh in heavily.

2. My attention.

Ways we direct our attention and focus, because the fight for customer attention has never been more intense, exacerbated by unprecedented volumes of content at our fingertips.

3. My connection.

How we connect to devices, information and each other matters more than ever. Our always-on mindset is driving shifts in our social interactions and behavior.

4. My watch.

How do we balance the constraints of time and how does that change across life events? The companies that understand the constraints of time and anticipate how that changes across life events are best placed to engage customers in the moments of greatest impact and to meet their needs head on.

5. My wallet.

How customers adjust their share of the wallet across life stages and pivotal life events is changing, creating a ripple effect of change across not just one, but all categories to which they allocate their money.

The Five Mys contribute to a deeper understanding of the changing customer and potential impacts on how people decide to prioritize how, when and where they spend money.

This is why they matter so dearly to B2B marketers…

Personas aren’t telling the full story

First, I’m a huge proponent of personas. But the structure of most personas don’t tell the full story of what motivates a buyer. It looks at things on-the-job like the person’s role, responsibility, what success looks like for them and what keeps them up at night. What personas fail to capture is the influence of true motivation, which are often psychological things that profiles don’t dig into. These are the intangible things that only the most sophisticated companies require in their personas. If you want information that will truly help you understand what underlying factors impact how your buyers make decisions, look at your profiles from the perspective of the Five Mys.

Your attention isn’t their attention

Brands say they struggle to get their content in front of buyers. Customers are clear that they pay attention to what’s important to them – and it’s not what matters to brands.You don’t get people’s attention by waving more content in their face. You earn it by building trust because you consistently serve up things of value.

Follow the flow

Organizations that refuse to collaborate across departments – silos – will never be able to deliver a seamless experience. Customers value a connected experience much more than brands invest in creating one. If B2B companies aren’t willing to invest in a well-thought-out experience that integrates all the parts and pieces, then customers won’t waste their time and money.

Invest where it makes sense, not where it’s easy

Companies put the cart before the horse. They’re so busy looking at the minutia of individual interactions that they miss the opportunity of the overall experience.

Tell me, what’s holding you, your team or your company back from focusing on the bigger experiences you’re delivering to customers?

Download the full report.

Photo credit: Flickr user Stanley Forthright

     About Carla


Carla is a world-renowned storyteller, an entertaining speaker, and a prolific author. Having lived, worked, and studied on five continents, she's partnered with top brands and conferences to train thousands of people how to rethink the work that they do and the impact they can have. Her visionary expertise has inspired and equipped leaders at all levels to embrace change, welcome new ideas, and transform their business.

Her work with Fortune 500 brands served as the foundation for many of her books. Her tenth, RE:Think Innovation, is a #1 new release that busts the myth that innovation is something that requires a specific degree or special training. In fact, Carla explains why, to be a successful company in today's hyper-competitive, customer-driven world, innovation must be everyone's business. Her goal is to teach one million people how to become innovators by 2025.

Consistently named one of the top influencers in B2B, digital and content marketing, Carla regularly challenges conventional thinking. Today, she travels the world teaching anyone (and everyone) how to cultivate idea-driven teams that breed unstoppable creativity and game-changing innovation.